After The New York Times questioned whether he was wearing any clothes, the Emperor of Albany remained quiet yesterday – instead issuing press release after press release that had nothing to do with the newspaper’s devastating report about whether he was pulling the strings of his “independent” anti-corruption commission.
“Governor Cuomo signs legislation to strengthen penalties for theft and mistreatment of pets,’’ trumpeted one release yesterday morning, not indicating whether those pets include the governor’s hand-picked commissioners who sometimes were spanked like a bad dog that had wandered into the wrong yard.
Ordinarily, The Times expose could fall into the “something happened” category of political game-changers, in which an incumbent candidate has a seemingly insurmountable lead unless – in the words of Louisiana pol Edwin Edwards – they’re caught in bed with a dead girl or a live boy.
But in Cuomo’s case, he seems nearly bulletproof even if his wardrobe is empty. Rob Astorino is struggling to gain traction in the governor’s race and he seems politically undisciplined – witness his public squabble with fellow Republican Chris Christie.
While Zephyr Teachout has been a feisty presence on the campaign trail, the Democrat must survive several legal challenges surrounding her petition signatures and her residency to even make the ballot.
The biggest threat to Cuomo’s re-election could come from U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who packed up the boxes of the governor’s anti-corruption commission and wheeled them over to his office.
Bharara last week subpoenaed the assistant to the commission’s former executive director – indicating that he’s already digging deep into what could be an ugly mess.
Channeling Mark Wahlberg from “The Departed,’’ Bharara uttered a quip in an interview with Charlie Rose that aired last night: "I'm the guy who does his job. You must be the other guy."
The other guy could be sweating for the first time this summer.